Women are still underrepresented in executive leadership positions. In many companies, women start out nearly equal with men in hiring for entry-level positions, but lose ground in the first round of managerial promotions and grow progressively fewer until only about 20 percent of women hold C-Suite positions, studies have shown.

Although 78 percent of companies label gender diversity one of their top priorities, a number of factors have made this objective difficult to meet.

Obstacles to Women as Executives

Several differences emerged with respect to how women are treated compared to the treatment of men. Women have less access to senior leaders than men do, partly because women’s networks tend to be mostly female, and most executives are male.

Another obstacle to women becoming executives is that women are more often seen as aggressive and bossy than men when they negotiate for promotions and raises, even though they do get what they want much of the time. Women also get less feedback at work than men, even though they request it just as often.

A major obstacle to women as executives is that fewer women want to become executives compared to their male counterparts. Women with families who do most of the housework and childcare are the least interested in executive positions. Additionally, many women say that there is just “too much politics” involved in executive positions and that there is too much pressure.

Tapping an Underutilized Talent Pool

Executive recruiters can tap into the underutilized talent pool represented by women to maximize their executive recruiting efforts. Women as a category are considered for executive positions when they present themselves for these opportunities, but recruiters can passively recruit women who may not be looking for executive positions when they see female candidates who would fit well into these high-level positions.

There may be women in lower-level positions who could transition into executive roles, and companies would be wise to mentor these women now so they can provide future executive leadership for your organization. Companies who maintain these steady pipelines are more successful at funneling higher numbers of women into executive positions than other companies.

Steps to Recruiting More Women Executives

There are some steps organizations can take to recruit more female executives. 

1. Comprehensive training to encourage gender diversity at all levels of management.

2. Use blind resume screening, gender-neutral job descriptions, and other best practices to ensure hiring and other HR functions are fair.

3. Track recruiting and hiring functions to see whether diversity goals are being met.

4. Make work-life balance a priority so that more women see an executive position as possible for them.

Thrive TRM can help with recruiting women as executives by integrating with resume screening tools and tracking your organization’s gender neutrality initiatives, just to name two examples. Contact us to see how Thrive TRM can help you recruit more women for executive positions.

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